Getting Started....

Hello all! As I work on getting the Blog back up to speed I wanted to dig into the archives a bit and bring out some of the resources that I had previously posted for those new to crochet or for those thinking about giving it a try. As a maker/crafter I think it is important to find the niche that speaks to you. For me, it is crochet. I love taking yarn and turning it into something beautiful. I find the repitition in stitching calming and I've always been one who likes to keep my hands busy. If you give it a try and don't love it that's ok! If you find that you love the feel of yarn and all of the endless crochet inspiration out there then grab your hook and follow me! 

Let’s Get Started! (crochet in a nutshell) After some time spent on Pinterest or at the local craft store (or both) you have decided that you would like to give crochet a try. Great! I’m happy to walk you through a few pointers to get started. For your first project I would recommend something simple and with repetition (see Simple Mug Cozy Pattern here). Doing simple stitches over and over will help you get familiar with not only how you like to hold your hook and yarn (there is no right or wrong way) but also how to keep the stitches/rows consistently the same size as you move along (tension). 

Beginners may find that they make their stitches a little too tight in their foundation/chain row (a chain row is the point where your project starts) or to loose making it difficult as you go along. If you chain your starting row to tightly you may want to consider using a hook one size larger than recommended in your pattern for that row or one size smaller if you chain to loosely. 

Once you choose your pattern, most will have a title and small description of the item you are about to make, materials needed, abbreviation key, gauge, and the pattern instructions. (Need help learning how to read a pattern? Email or comment below and I will send you a resource!)

  Materials typically include the type of yarn recommended (weight), the size of hook you will need, finishing needle, and scissors. A few other items that you may want to consider that I highly recommend include a small notebook for pattern notes and/or row counts (which I will explain as we go along), a soft tape measure to check gauge, and a needle box to organize/hold your finishing needles. 

 I am a lover of yarn. If I had the time I could spend hours wandering through the aisles looking at the different colors and feeling the different textures and types. However, when you choose a project it is important to pay close attention to the weight and what is recommended for your project and not just pick a yarn that you think is pretty, etc. The weight is referring to the thickness of the yarn. If your pattern is calling for medium weight yarn and you use a chunky/bulky yarn then it is not going to turn out properly. It is also equally important to use the correct hook size with said yarn or it will also impact the design or be difficult and frustrating for you as you work along. Most yarns will recommend the hook size on the package. 

Hook size matters as mentioned above. I also think buying a good quality hook will help as you are learning the craft. I personally love Clover hooks. They are easy to hold and comfortable to use. I find that my yarn glides along well without catching.  

Once you have completed your project you will need to weave in the ends of the yarn. You may purchase the plastic finishing needles but I am partial to the steel tapestry needles. They are a little more robust in my opinion and just easier to work with.

   Finally, a decent pair of scissors to trim away any excess yarn ends. I also have a small notebook that I keep with me as a work on a project. This allows me to make notes such as which row I’m on if I have to stop what I’m doing so I can remember where to pick up later. I keep a needles container with me as well with a few finishing needles and bobby pins inside. I use the Bobby Pins as quick and easy to find stitch markers (I usually have one in my hair I can pull out if needed, haha). Stitch markers are something that you may use more often when working in rounds. I find myself using them frequently when making an amigurumi project. You can purchase traditional stitch markers if you prefer at your local craft store. 

After you have read through your pattern and reviewed your materials I would pay attention to the Abbreviation Key. Most abbreviations in the key will be pretty standard however if the author has developed a special stitch for the pattern you will find that information in the key and likely a short explanation of how to perform the stitch. It is also important to note whether your pattern is written in American Standard Terms or UK Terms which will be different.  

You are now ready to get started. The pattern instructions will start by giving you the number of chains for your starting row. I would recommend counting closely as you go along for the first few rows to assure you are turning at the appropriate place and not missing any stitches. This will avoid any nasty surprises/uneven rows later.  

In the beginning there will likely be a few mistakes and that’s ok! Starting with something small may be best while you get used to the basic stitches and becoming more comfortable overall. If you do make a mistake you can pull the yarn back and fix it. Or what some crocheters like to refer to as “frogging” because you get to “rip-it, rip-it” out! 

Crochet Fundamentals Below is a quick reference on the basics of crochet. I have also included a link to yarnspirations.com which provides several videos on the following topics.  

Most patterns start out with either a Magic Ring or a Slipknot. A slipnot is how the yarn is initially attached to the hook by making a loop near the tail end of the yarn and using your hook or fingers to pull the yarn from the ball through the loop. A magic ring, also referred to as a magic loop or magic circle is often used when working in the round. I nearly always use Magic Rings when making amigurumi projects. 

When working a pattern that starts with a slipnot you will need to make a foundation row of chain stitches. You will do this by wrapping your yarn over your hook, “yarning over”, and using the hook or your fingers to pull the yarn through the loop. You will continue doing this until you have made the instructed number of chain stitches needed for your foundation row. After you have made the appropriate number of chains you will be instructed to turn your work and make a stitch in one of the foundation chains closest to your hook. For example, “place a SC (single crochet) in the second CH (chain) from your hook. The chain closest to your hook, which you skip in this example, would be your turning chain in following rows. Where you place your hook to start your second row depends on the number of turning chains required in future rows. This is determined by which type of stitch your pattern calls for. For example, if you are making SC stitches then you will CH 1 to turn your work. If you were making Half-Double Crochet (HDC) stitches then you would need to CH2 to turn your work because of the depth of the stitch. This information will be included in your pattern but it is helpful to understand why you need to CH1 to turn versus CH2, etc.  

A Single Crochet (SC) is the most basic of the stitches used. It is also strong with minimal stretch/give which is what makes it ideal for amigurumi/toy projects. A SC is worked by inserting your hook from the front to the back of the chain or stitch your are working in. You will then yarn over and pull the yarn back towards you through the chain when working with your foundation row or desired stitch on following/subsequent rows. After doing this, you will then have two loops on the hook. You will yarn over again and pull through both loops on the hook. You will be left with one remaining loop on the hook. You have now completed one SC and will continue into the next chain or stitch as directed by your pattern.  

A Half-Double Crochet (HDC) is in between a Single Crochet and Double Crochet in height. To complete a HDC you will yarn over your hook before inserting it into the stitch from front to back and then yarn over again and pull the yarn back towards you. This will leave you with three loops on your hook. You will yarn over again and pull your yarn through all three loops completing the HDC.  

A Double Crochet (DC) is taller and more flexible than a SC. You will yarn over before placing your hook into the stitch you are working in (same as with the HDC). Working front to back you will insert your hook into the stitch and yarn over again, pulling the yarn back through the loop towards you. This will leave you with three loops on the hook. You will yarn over again being careful to only pull your hook through 2 loops. This will leave you will 2 loops remaining on the hook. You will then yarn over again and pull the yarn through the remaining 2 loops on the hook. You have now completed a DC.  

Slip Stitch (sl st), a slip stitch may be used to join chain stitches for working in the round or to move to spot in your work without making stitches or to finish off a piece of work. To complete a slip stitch you insert your hook from front to back in the designated stitch. You will yarn over and pull it through both loops on your hook, leaving you with one remaining loop on the hook. You have completed a slip stitch.  

There are other stitch types and specialty stitches that are used in patterns (which are explained in the pattern) however these basic stitches are a good place to start when learning to crochet. Performing small projects with repetition is great practice for developing consistent stitches and becoming comfortable and coordinated as you work along. When starting out it can be confusing at times so I highly recommend watching the following tutorials to have a visual aide to go along with the written instructions, available here.

I hope you have found this information to be helpful! Please feel free to comment with any questions. If you would like to subscribe to email notifications you will also receive information on new posts as well as links to new/free patterns. Happy crocheting!  

~Nicole 

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